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Published June 21, 2019
A tenured professor and retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves from Wright State University (WSU) in Dayton, Ohio, has been selected as dean of the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing in the University of Wyoming’s College of Health Sciences.
Sherrill Smith currently serves as full professor in the College of Nursing and Health at WSU. She will begin her new role at UW Aug. 1. Current Dean Mary Burman will be step back into the UW nursing faculty as of July 31. Burman has served as dean of the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing since 2007.
Smith’s academic and military background bring strong leadership to the school. She plans to bolster the school’s preparation of nursing students for taking on leadership roles in practice.
“I have been expected to be a leader since my first RN position as a military officer and staff nurse,” she says. “I have built my leadership skills through positions in practice and academia, and I have shared those experiences in teaching leadership courses to both undergraduate and graduate students.”
Smith explains her leadership skills in detail.
“Because of my extensive leadership experience, I am able to help clarify theoretical leadership perspectives with real-life examples from my own practice,” she adds. “I am most proud of a daylong leadership activity that I developed for senior nursing students to understand the leadership role of nurses in disasters.”
College of Health Sciences Interim Dean David Jones is appreciative of Smith’s experiences.
“Experience is a vital part of the role faculty and administration play in addressing the needs of education and health care in Wyoming and beyond,” Jones says. “We are extremely pleased that Dr. Smith will be joining us in the College of Health Sciences. She brings a wealth of experience to the School of Nursing and, as dean, will play a key role in the college’s efforts to address issues related to health care in the state and region.”
Smith’s scholarly focus, as a researcher, is on the area of nursing education.
“Specifically, in the area of simulation and technology in nursing education. I believe this research trajectory will have an important impact as dean of the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing,” she says.
Smith, an associate member of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, recognizes the importance of simulation: using robotic patients to interact with nursing students, as well as enabling faculty members to increase their teaching involvement in these areas.
“With this background, I can provide guidance in best practices for use of simulation and technology, as well as provide guidance in avenues for scholarly trajectory assistance for faculty interested in pursuing scholarship in the area of teaching and learning,” she says.
The School of Nursing was established at UW in 1951. Officially named the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing in 2003, the school continues as a leader in scholarly, interprofessional nursing education and practice.
“I feel very honored to be part of a nursing program with a history of excellence, including a recent successful Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accreditation visit,” Smith says. “As the new dean, I am excited to be part of continuing this tradition of excellence by working with our partners across the state to meet the nursing workforce needs of Wyoming. To do this will require recruiting and sustaining a diverse faculty and student body.”
Smith also adds other future goals.
“Finally, I would like to facilitate development of interprofessional teams to support faculty in pursuit of whatever type of scholarship they choose to advance the discipline of nursing,” she says.